Weekending

Bubble BlasterBubble Blaster Rhododendron Snuggle Time Irises Untitled Steiny Juliet Untitled Sand Play Old Port Festival Parade

Old Port Festival Parade Old Port Festival Parade

With the arrival of good weather and the Annual Old Port Festival in Portland, it's really starting to feel like summer here. And with summer comes copious amounts of sunscreen, bug-spray and activity for the Cleaver clan.

LMC got to take in her first parade, which featured beautiful large-scale puppets from Shoestring Theatre and sampled a bit of fair food. We also visited her first farmer's market and picked out plants to go into the new raised beds, which despite her efforts to pluck them back out have been firmly planted into their new homes.

The boxes are approximately 4 ft x 8 ft x 6 inches. We got a yard and half of loam delivered from O'Donals in Gorham, which we combined with some of our Garbage to Garden compost from last year.  We probably could have gotten away with a yard of dirt, but the leftovers will go into additional boxes we hope to have in place for planting next year.  Because, obviously two boxes aren't gonna cut it. :)

As for this year's plantings, I kept the plant list fairly similar to my first garden attempt, with the addition of lettuce:

  • Plum tomatoes for salsa and sauce (3)
  • Sweet bell peppers (2)
  • Broccoli (6)
  • Lettuce (6)
  • Basil (4)
  • Thyme (1)
  • Rosemary(1)

I think I'll probably pick up a few more herbs (I'm thinking cilantro and maybe parsley and mint) and I also planted 4 strawberry plants around the deck in addition to our existing blueberry bush.

Growing up I lived in a house on a corner lot with a huge backyard that my parents filled with all sorts of edible plants. We had cherries, granny smith apples, boysenberries, strawberries and cherry tomatoes most of time. As a kid, my friends and I would spend our summer afternoons out there, reenacting dance routines from Newsies over the sprinkler and eating our fill of the backyard bounty. It was bliss.

Now as a grownup, I live in a house on a corner lot with a huge backyard, that I'm slowly filling with edibles, so my daughter too can eat sun-warmed fruits and veggies to her heart's content.

Print Friendly and PDF Follow
follow us in feedly

Yard Work

We took advantage of decent weather and a long weekend to get some yard work done. Mr. Cleaver mowed the lawn, Little Miss did lawn mower maintenance (it's electric and I'd highly recommend it), and Steinbeck keep guard. Meanwhile, I put on my best Bobby C. shirt, pulled out the tools, and put together two very long overdue frame for raised beds.

Read More
Print Friendly and PDF Follow
follow us in feedly

Five Things Having a Baby Taught Me about Sewing

Birthday DressAs Little Miss Cleaver is several weeks into her one-year-old-ness and several friends and family have had welcomed new babies in the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about those first few heady days of parenting of how quickly your life shifts to a new norm, and then I thought about how it’s changed what I make and why.

Thanks to Mr. Cleaver’s keen understanding of how making stuff is important to me, I’ve been able to do a fair amount of sewing since LMC’s birth. However, two vital things have changed about my sewing time. One, it’s in shorter spurts now and perhaps less frequent, but all the more welcome and two, the things I make are usually, though not always, for someone with wee clothing needs a bit different from own. Because of these two changes, I’ve experienced a few new things about sewing that I thought I’d share. Milk coma 1. Trying out new things is easier when the project is small

Before I started sewing baby stuff, I had never completed a project in knit fabric. I’d made a few attempts in the past, but never really finished anything. Then I decided to make some envelope tees. The fabric was fairly stable (interlock) and the seams were all of six inches long. It was a small enough project that even if I screwed it up, I was out of a quarter of a yard of fabric, maybe. I’ve probably made about ten or so since, some in interlock, some in jersey, some hacked together with the Geranium pattern into dresses.

Having worked in this small scale, I’m much more comfortable with knits and am eyeballing some larger-scale knit projects for myself. Oliver + S Birthday Party Dress 2. There’s frosting, there’s cake, and then there’s bread. And there is nothing wrong with sewing any of them.

Tasia coined the whole frosting vs. cake terminology, but sometimes, even cake is too fancy of a word for some items.

There are a lot of things that I used to think that I’d never bother making, because they were just too dull and/or readily available inexpensively. Like solid-colored t-shirts, non-fancy underwear, leggings, plain socks. But then you figure out that those ready available things are kinda cruddy. The number of onesies we bought that got holes in the fabric is astonishing, especially considering the early ones that were worn for maybe 3 months by something that didn’t move much.

Now I haven’t made any onesies, mostly because I’ve yet to have any luck with inserting snaps, despite several efforts (any suggestions welcomed!), but if I could get over that snap-inserting hump I totally would the next time I needed onesies. Because there’s a certain satisfaction to pulling something out of the drawer and wearing it on a daily basis and having the fabric be nice, and the seams finished well, even if it’s super dull. My style and sewing has become more utilitarian these days, and as much fun as it is to spend days making a fabulous dress, my current dream sewing project list is full of things those things that I never thought I’d ever bother to sew.

That’s not to say I don’t make the occasional fabulous piece of cake or frosting, like the Oliver + S Birthday Party Dress seen above or the wear-it-once Ewok costume , both of which were totally worth the extra effort in my opinion. My creation 3. Multiples are your friends.

Not every project has to be a special snowflake. When you make multiples of something you only have to cut/trace the pattern in each size once and depending on your fabric, you can cut out multiple projects at the same, getting to the actual sewing quicker. A huge plus when your sewing time is more limited.

When you do the same thing multiple times, you learn from your mistakes and get better. And generally faster at it too. This can be particularly helpful if you’re making those everyday bread pieces and need a bunch of them.

Untitled

4. When in doubt, make the longer version.

It has been my experience that babies grow taller much faster than they grow wider, which means those leggings turn to capris, those pants to shorts, and those dresses to tunics.

Little Miss Cleaver was about 6 weeks old when she first started wearing that green dress. As a one-year old she still has a lovely tunic that she wears. In that case, the knit fabric also helps, but I’ve been able to stretch the life of many a handmade baby item, simply by making the longer version.

 

IMGP8546

5. You’ve probably already got a fabric stash, so stock-up on notions

I’ve got enough adorable novelty prints to last me three years (at least), so if I want to do a project, I’ve probably already got some fabricI can use, but having a good supply of buttons and piping and zippers and thread in a variety of colors means I don’t have to use my sewing time on a trip to the store that inevitably takes longer than I want it to.

Since I am sadly, not someone who ever inherited mason jars full of fabulous vintage buttons, I early on bought a bunch of packs of multicolored buttons in various sizes that have been indispensable. I learned my lesson and also have a good stash of elastic in various widths and plenty of machine needles. Figure out what you use a lot of and get a ton.

Also, when it comes to matching colors, there is such a thing as good enough. When my mother first taught me to sew, we would go to the store, pick out a pattern, pick out the fabric and carefully select a thread color to match exactly. Now I have one thread storage box that holds about 40 spools, and generally there’s something there that is close enough (unless it’s orange, apparently I have no orange thread), or maybe that project will look great with contrasting thread!

I’d also like to work on having a good stash of quality solid fabrics to use for contrasting yokes and linings.

And one bonus comment, that relates to baby clothing in general: If it’s a practical button (i.e. one that you have to actually use to get an item on and off your child), anything smaller than ½” is just so not worth the trouble. Maybe 3/8.” Maybe.

 

Anything your kids have taught you about sewing? Feel free to share in the comments below.

Epic Birthday Weekend

Untitled

IMG_1102

IMG_1114

IMG_1108

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Little Miss Cleaver turned one this weekend, and it's hard to believe it's been a year already. The days can be long (3:30 wake up calls, anyone?) but the weeks and months, and now year (!), just speed by.  It seems not so long ago she was just this tiny squishy thing and now she's walking and babling, and has opinions and is just a tiny little person.

To celebrate her first birthday we made a weekend of it. First on Friday, Mr. Cleaver and LMC met me at work and we went out to lunch at the Olive Cafe, picked out some birthday presents at the local toy store, and LMC tasted her first ice cream - Gelato Fiasco of course!

For her actual birthday on Saturday we kept it fairly low key. She wore a new mom-made birthday dress. There was breakfast and cards. Then we went to LMC's very first swim class, the first half of which involved a wet baby clinging to me like a barnacle, until we got to the picking up and splashing into the pool part and especially the singing part. During the singing she clapped her little hands with joy and looked at me as if to say, you didn't tell me there'd be singing mom, I'd have been more open to this whole thing if I knew there would be singing! The swim class totally wiped her out and resulted in a nearly two-hour mom lap nap.

In the afternoon Memere joined us for a few balloons, a few presents, and a cake. In honor of her birth on Maine Maple weekend, I made a applesauce cake with maple buttercream frosting. I modified the original recipe to use 3/4 cup of whole wheat flour, less sugar in the cake, and no nuts/raisins. I'd probably cut back on the whole wheat flour next time, as it got a bit dense. I also added a bit of water to the frosting to get it to a spreadable consistency, but it was otherwise delicious.  The frosting tasted almost exaclt like maple sugar candy. The cake decorations I made myself out of some scrapbook paper. The birthday crown was a free pattern on Ravelry that took about an hour to make.

Later in the day our neighbors, who watch LMC two days a week and are like second family to her came over for a while.  Then we ate some pizza, gave LMC a bath, and everyone went to bed about a half an hour early and slept in late.

Today was Maine Maple Sunday itself, and we made our usual jaunt up to Sebago for a pancake breakfast and sugar shack visit. All in all it was a sweet time with a sweet little girl and a very good first birthday/first year of parenting celebration.